Former Bank of America Employee to Pay Restitution for Soliciting Illegal Fees From Distressed Homeowners During Foreclosure Crisis
Loan Officer From Danvers Misrepresented Himself as Attorney; Demanded Illegal Fees in Violation of the Attorney General's Foreclosure Rescue Regulations
Christian Hayes of Danvers entered into the settlement today with AG Coakley's office resolving allegations that Hayes, a former mortgage loan officer with Bank of America, and the former owner and principal of the now dissolved Foreclosure Alternatives, sought to capitalize on the foreclosure crisis by targeting and preying upon Massachusetts residents facing imminent loss of their homes.
"Homeowners who were seeking to save their homes from foreclosure were scammed by a bank employee who used his bank affiliation to gain their trust in seeking to avoid foreclosure," said Attorney General Martha Coakley. "It is particularly egregious when individuals who are legitimate bank employees exploit this status to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners."
On April 8, 2010, the Attorney General's Office filed a complaint which alleged that while Hayes was employed at Bank of America, he deceptively solicited loan modification services. The Attorney General's complaint alleged that Hayes, through his company Foreclosure Alternatives, demanded up to $1,500 in up-front fees, before negotiating loan modifications to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Such advance fees are illegal under the foreclosure rescue regulations issued in 2007 by the Attorney General's Office to combat unfair business practices that target homeowners facing foreclosure. The complaint also alleges Hayes told some borrowers that he was an attorney with Bank of America, when in fact he was a mortgage loan officer.
The consent judgment, filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, requires Hayes to pay $6,350 in restitution to the Attorney General's local consumer aid fund as well as civil penalties. Hayes is also prohibited from providing Foreclosure Related Services in Massachusetts in the future.
The Attorney General's Office encourages homeowners having difficulty paying their mortgages on time to speak directly with their lenders or servicers about the prospects of obtaining an affordable loan modification. Homeowners can also seek free assistance from non-profit organizations in their communities. Attorney General Coakley continues to advocate for lenders to consider loss mitigation measures such as loan modifications as an alternative to foreclosure, which benefits both the borrower and the lender.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Geraldine Aine and Amber Anderson Villa of Attorney General Coakley's Consumer Protection Division with assistance from Investigator Jake Harney.